Children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration Board
Children from Syria sleep outside the Swedish Migration BoardReuters

The intelligence branch of the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol has estimated that nearly 10,000 children of asylum seekers have gone missing over the past few months since they have arrived on the continent. The agency believes that these children are being sold into slavery or being used as sex slaves. The children come from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or Africa. 

According to a report that appeared in the Guardian, the biggest worry is that the children have been sold to major criminal organizations who deal with human trafficking for slave labor and sex slaves. Europol’s chief of staff Brian Donald told The Observer that 5,000 children have gone missing in Italy alone, and another 1,000 have disappeared in Sweden. "Not all of them will be criminally exploited; some might have been passed on to family members. We just don’t know where they are, what they’re doing or whom they are with." 

The missing children issue is quickly becoming one of the biggest problems facing Europe in the wave of the influx of immigrants. According to Save the Children, an estimated 26,000 unaccompanied children entered Europe last year. Europol believes that 27 percent of all of the immigrants to Europe last year were unaccompanied minors. Donald remarked that "an entire criminal infrastructure has developed over the past 18 months around exploiting the migrant flow."